Today the president for the day used Hindu and Buddhist scriptures, along with some contemporary non-aligned thoughts, as the readings for the gathering. This was to counterbalance the decidedly Christian sources that had been used in the past couple of gatherings during the Christmas season.
We lit the chalice with words which are being used worldwide by Unitarians during February:
Words written by Jean-Claude Barbier of the Assemblée Fraternelle des Chrétiens Unitariens (AFCU)
Hallelujah for the chalice which contains the wine, which contains our lives;
Hallelujah for the flame which rises with our prayers, with our hopes;
Let us give thanks to God, to the divine Breath, to the Matrix that is the source of the life.
Let us give thanks for this Creation given and received.
Thanks to rabbi and teacher Jesus of Nazareth and all the wise ones of our Humanity, of all the religions, all wisdoms, all philosophies.
Thanks to all the people of our History who built this world,
That we are present, by mutual agreement, together at the meeting-point of our worship.
That we are present, listening to each other, helping each other, at the meeting-point of our worship.
After our usual ritual to welcome our circle, we had our first reading from the Taittiriya Upanishad, part III, being the story of Bhrigu and Varuna. The translation chosen is by Eknath Easwaran.
Bhrigu repeatedly asks his father for instruction on the nature of the Brahman, and by following the instruction to meditate, Bhrigu discovers that Brahman includes all the following: food, life, mind, wisdom, joy. In short, whatever it is that creatures come from, whatever it is that they seek, whatever it is that they live by, and whatever it is that they return to: that is Brahman.
For our second reading we heard an extract from We Are One: a manifesto for humanity by Simenon Honoré, pub 2010, Spirit of the Rainbow. In the extract chosen, the writer says: “If we go yet more deeply into our own being we will discover our natural state of joy…..In awakening to this inner truth we take an important step in setting our hearts free to create a new world, within and without.”
The president mused on these two readings in the light of other assertions recently made at Unitarian and Anglican services she had been in. Summing up, she suggested that:
- the task of a church is to serve the needs of people: the need to feel loved, the need
- for herself, the ultimate aim of going to church is not to find mending on a personal level, welcome though that may be. The ultimate aim of going into a church is to come out of church again, to re-enter the world changed, and hence to bring change to the world. This grandiose idea is actually very humble and is rooted in what we heard in the readings: that there is connected spiritual oneness in all existence, so, by changing personally, one also changes the world.
- there is a state of joy, clarity, bliss, enlightenment, awakening, oblivion, awareness, union; a state that we cannot in any way earn, but neither can we be dispossessed of it; a state that - as the Buddha said - “lies behind the desires and worldly passions which the mind entertains” (from The Teaching of Buddha, pub 1966, Bukkyō Dendō Kyōkai)
We also had our candles of concern and as we start out on our sixth year together, we heard the Buddha’s advice for a successful fellowship (or Sangha).